How long should I wait? Booking a Physio…
It is often said in life that the best things are worth waiting for. This is no different in the Equine world, with the best vets,
farriers, saddlers and physios booked up months in advance. It can be incredibly frustrating when you want someone
that week to come and see your horse, yet getting them to respond to a text/call is hard enough, let alone actually
booking an appointment.
Unfortunately the reality is that many of your equine professionals are a “one man band” – this means that as well as
working all hours of the day (and sometimes night) treating horses, they are also responsible for all of their own admin,
not to mention training and keeping their equipment serviced, tested and up to date. Most will also have families,
and/or animals of their own that must fit into their day, so whilst we often glance at a text or listen to a voicemail whilst
multitasking with cooking dinner or going over accounts, it can be a few days before we remember to actually respond.
As well as working, we have to put aside time to complete simple tasks; speaking for myself, my day does not finish when I park the car on the drive of an evening (and sometimes this can be 9.30pm at night). I then have to sit down at the computer, log all my notes from the day, reply to emails, go through my diary, reply to texts (hopefully I remember them all) and update my accounts. On the days I am not home so late, I try to ride my own horses, walk the dogs, and spend time with my family. It is an ongoing juggling act.
When you do get hold of your professional, please don’t expect an appointment the next day; most professionals will not even be able to fit you in the same week. Their work is in demand; their diary is often full. Some physio’s I know offer a “retainer” service, whereby a certain number of appointments are kept open each week, and those paying a retainer get first option on these, meaning they should never have to wait more than a few days. The price of this service often fluctuates between £50 - £150/month; it may sound expensive, but remember that the therapist is potentially losing £50/60 per appointment they leave open, with no guarantee their retainer clients will use them that week/month.
Depending on location, your physio may cover a large area; I cover approximately a 100 mile radius from home, which means some of my clients are nearly 2 hours away. I cannot justify the fuel or the time travelling for one horse, and most are reluctant to pay a fuel charge. I try to group people in certain areas together, which means my prices remain as low as possible, but this restricts availability. Please do not be surprised or offended if you have to wait 3-4 weeks to get an appointment; at the beginning of the year my weekends were booked up 5 months in advance! This time of year (summer) is a little more flexible as people do not mind waiting at the yard past 8pm so more can be fitted into a day.
Please do not think that we don’t care about our clients; on the contrary I take a huge interest in every animal I meet; but we are only human, and with so many things filling our brains day to day, we can forget to reply to a message. We try our best to get to everyone as quickly as possible, but please understand you have to wait for the good ones; if someone can come the next day it shows they are not busy enough. Don’t get me wrong, we can always try and squeeze someone in if we are going that direction, but generally you should expect to wait at least 4 weeks, sometimes longer (I think my saddler is currently booking up 3 months in advance!!).
I know it can be frustrating when your horse/dog/cat is uncomfortable – and in these circumstances most physios will try to get to you ASAP, but please remember we are all self -employed; the hidden expenses you do not see – fuel, tyres, vehicle maintenance and servicing, equipment maintenance and servicing, accountants, CPD training, insurance etc – the costs mount up. Recently I drove 1hr 20 minutes to visit a horse as a matter of urgency (2hr consultation) then 1hr 20 home – a total of 4hrs 40 minutes, 98 miles – for my standard £45 charge. Maybe I’m the idiot – once expenses are accounted for, that is less than minimum wage, but for me the horses come first. However, I cannot sustain this day in day out; no one can – so please be patient when waiting for an appointment, we genuinely are not trying to annoy you or make you wait as long as possible, we value all our clients and their animals, but for those of us who are (luckily) in demand, it may just take us a little longer to see you.